Agtech Seedlings: Bayer tests generative AI in farming

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Agtech Seedlings is a weekly roundup of the latest in agriculture technology news, digging into venture funding, product announcements and other innovation milestones. Have news to share? Email us here.

Bayer pilots a generative AI chatbot for farm management

Crop sciences giant Bayer is looking to roll out an AI-powered virtual assistant that can give farmers advice on how to best manage their crops.

The tool, designed for farmers across the globe, quickly answers questions related to agronomy and Bayer agricultural products, according to a company announcement. The system, developed in collaboration with Microsoft and Ernst & Young, was built using years of internal data from Bayer.

“Our unique GenAI system has the potential [to] serve agronomists and benefit farmers all over the world, further advancing AI as an indispensable technology for agriculture,” said Amanda McClerren, CIO and head of digital transformation and information technology for Bayer’s Crop Science division.

The company is exploring ways to integrate the generative AI system into its digital offerings and anticipates opportunities to collaborate with other corporate partners. Bayer aims to expand the pilot of the tool to selected agronomists and potentially farmers as early as this year.

Bayer is also developing a separate generative AI prototype that allows users to directly ask about their farm data.

Sarah Zimmerman

FBN’s lending unit surpasses $1B in loans financed

Farmers Business Network said Thursday that its lending arm has financed more than $1 billion in agricultural loans, a milestone for the agtech platform.

FBN Finance’s Operating Lines offer producers loans between $100,000 and $5 million for expenses such as labor, inputs, equipment and rent. The lending unit also gives financing incentives for farmers who implement regenerative agriculture practices, offering a .5% interest payment rebate for certain loans.

“We’re proud that our farmer members trust us to deliver the financing they need to power their operations,” said Dan English, general manager of FBN Finance. “We look forward to providing the tools for growers to make critical investments in their farms, maximizing their ROI and profitability in the years to come.”

Sarah Zimmerman

Cibus raises $600M for sustainable agriculture

Cibus Capital LLP secured about $645 million to invest in sustainable food and agriculture innovation, the London-based investment advisor said.

The fundraising round attracted new and existing investors, including the Los Angeles County Employee Retirement Association and Retail Employees Superannuation Trust, one of Australia’s largest workplace pension funds.

The advisory firm invests in a range of food and agriculture companies, specifically mid-market production and processing businesses and late-stage agtech firms.

“We are excited about the possibilities to come, deploying capital to innovative companies supporting the technological revolution much needed in our food system,” Alastair Cooper, head of venture at Cibus, said in a statement.

— Nathan Owens unveils autonomous irrigation tool is rolling out an irrigation management system that can automatically adjust to shifting weather patterns, the Amsterdam-based firm said.

The smart tool, called Source Irrigation Control, uses artificial intelligence models fed with timely weather forecasts and plant data to predict water and nutrient uptake. It then applies its findings to a proactive irrigation plan, decreasing the need for manual intervention.

“Growers can now harness the competitive advantages of AI for data interpretation and irrigation,” Rien Kamman, CEO and co-founder of, said in a statement.

This latest offering adds to’s product line, which includes Source Track, a digital twin tool farmers use to manage their crops.

— Nathan Owens

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